Indiana Study Adds One More Proof to Pile: Charters Thrive in Right Conditions

Indiana is one of those states where an ambitious education reform push is underway. Interestingly, the Indianapolis Star reports today on some new evidence (H/T American Federation for Children) bolstering part of the legislative package supported by Governor Mitch Daniels and State Superintendent Tony Bennett:

The Star looked at charter schools’ scores on ISTEP [Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress] and new end-of-course exams in math and English for high school students last year and compared them with scores in Indianapolis Public Schools. The comparison showed:

Charter schools’ overall performance on ISTEP very closely matched that of IPS, but charters ranked somewhat higher on year-over-year improvement for their students compared with those who had similar scores in English.

Charters outperformed IPS on end-of-course high school exams begun last year, with a larger share of charter schools ranking high in the state and fewer at the bottom of the rankings.

Not that this analysis represents earth-shattering news. In fact, it’s not the first study within the past year showing Indiana charter schools register bigger academic improvements among students than do their traditional public school peers. My Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow highlighted such a report for an article in last October’s School Reform News. Just giving out the name “charter school” guarantees nothing at all. But when given true freedom, equity and accountability, charter schools driven by parental choice thrive.

Can you feel it? Power over schools in this country is slowly shifting from bureaucratic administrations and union officials to parents and families. Continuing to wield that power wisely promises to reap great results. It’s good to see Indiana positively addressing the situation with legislation that’s already passed one house of the legislature. While I love Colorado, today I also feel a little honorary Hoosier in me.